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Integrating the health.moves.minds. Program into PETE

Jenny M. Linker and Joe Deutsch

joperd cover may 2020

Less than one quarter of our nation’s children engage in the nationally recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day (The Child & Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative, 2019). Additionally, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues are on the rise as the percentage of high school students has increased for both those reporting persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness and those who have contemplated suicide (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2017). These factors, coupled with the changing demands of the 21st century, require schools to adopt a whole-child approach to education. The whole-child approach strives to ensure that every student’s basic needs are met in order to facilitate individual development and long-term success (ASCD, n.d.). Student development is fostered within a whole-child approach by creating healthy, safe, engaging, supportive and challenging environments that extend beyond those with a purely academic achievement focus.

Implementation of social and emotional learning (SEL) programs and practices has become a major priority of school administration and staff adopting whole-child approaches to education. The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL, n.d.) defi nes SEL as “the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.” CASEL’s integrative SEL framework (found here: core-competencies/) is anchored by fi ve core competencies: Selfawareness, Self-management, Social Awareness, Relationship Skills, and Responsible Decision-making (see Table 1 for descriptions; 2019a).

More than two decades of research across multiple cognate areas documents the positive impact of SEL educational programming (CASEL, 2019b). A 2017 meta-analysis of 82 school-based K–12 SEL interventions revealed that intervention participants experienced more long-term benefits (six months to 18 years postintervention) such as better SEL skills, attitudes, and indicators of well-being than those in the control group regardless of race, socioeconomic background, or school location (Taylor, Oberle, Durlak, & Weissberg, 2017). An 11% gain in academic achievement was also reported in an earlier meta-analysis (Durlak, Weissberg, Dymnicki, Taylor, & Schellinger, 2011). Belfield et al. (2015) additionally concluded that there was an $11 return for every $1 spent across six different SEL interventions. Thus investing in SEL interventions appears to yield valuable benefits, while being fiscally sound.

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